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Morning News Holiday Recipes

WGN Morning News crew is sharing with you some of their favorite holiday recipes.

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies:

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1.In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls. I like to use a number 50 size scoop. Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.
3.Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.


1 (1 pound) sweet potato

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup milk


1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust


1. Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin.

2. Break apart sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up like a soufflé, and then will sink down as it cools.

3  cans of evaporated milk (12 oz cans)

1  of condesend milk (14 oz can)

1 can of Cream of Coconut (what you make Pina Coladas with) (15 0z can)

Rum (light rum)

Cinnamon sticks

Whisk evaporated, condensed milk and cream of coconut in a bowl. Whisk the cream of coconut well so it doesn’t have lumps.  Pour in rum. I don’t have an exact measure. I would do half a bottle and then taste it. You decide how you like it.

Put 2 cinnamon sticks in an empty bottle. Pour in coquito. Refrigerate and serve cold in small shot or cordial glasses.

WGN Morning News

Dean’s Recipe for: Pastitsio

WGN Morning News crew is sharing their favorite holiday recipe with us

  • 1 lb. #43 Penne pasta
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 lb ground beef – 80% lean
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 shot cognac
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Cook pasta al dente; drain, add olive oil to lightly coat and return to pan. Do not overcook

Stir in the melted butter, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup milk, and the egg; set aside.

In a skillet or large saucepan, cook ground beef and onion until meat loses its pinkness and onion is soft; drain excess fat.

Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, wine, water, cognac, salt, mint flakes, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper; set aside.

Cook down until liquids are nearly gone and flavor is enhanced.

Cool and mix the meat mixture with the pasta.  Set aside.

In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter, then mix in flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Slowly stir in the 2 cups milk, stirring well after each addition so that no lumps form.

Cook and stir on medium high until cream sauce starts to thicken; stir for one minute more, then remove from heat.

Beat egg in a small bowl, then pour into cream sauce, stirring briskly.

Blend in the 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.

Layer 1/3 the pasta/meat mixture in an 11″ x 7″ baking or lasagna dish.

Top evenly with grated parmesan cheese

Repeat with the 2nd and 3rd layer of mixture.

Pour cream sauce over top, to cover completely.

Add one more layer of parmesan,  bread crumbs and dot evenly with butter.

Bake, uncovered, at 350F for about 45 minutes, or until hot and lightly browned.

Let stand for 10 minutes.